I’m constantly writing about how I rebel against the perceived seasonality of wines. Yet, here I stand, just a girl, with two bottles of Ernie Els Wines red in my hands, begging winter to arrive.
Having visited the newly renovated home of Ernie Els Wines a few months ago, I’ve simply not stopped talking about this feel-good experience. It was summer, and one of the first outings I allowed myself during the confines of the pandemic, as I knew we could safely dine outside, whilst soaking up the wine and views on offer. Maybe it was the utter deprivation of good wine or the exhilarating first sip of a flight of wines, but this day is one that I still think back on fondly.
I also generously received two bottles of their spectacular wines as a gift some time ago, which I’ve been saving for the change of the seasons. The one was the Ernie Els Major Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 and the other the Ernie Els Big Easy Red Blend 2017. Having had the opportunity to taste both of these at the estate previously, I knew they were very much worth the wait.
A Cab Sauv relationship
I’ve never been a great fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, despite it being a very popular grape varietal across the world. I find that some Cabernet Sauvignon interpretations can be quite intense, and I struggle with finding a palatable balance between the (sometimes) high levels of tannins and that full-mouth velvety feel you crave from a bold red wine.
Over the years, I’ve only managed to find a clutch of these that I adore above all, and I will return to them time and time again. Not so surprisingly, one of those keepers is the Major Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 from the house of Ernie Els Wines, who pride themselves on making some pretty awesome red wine.
About a blend
A good red blend is something I utterly and fully indulge in, frequently and as often as there is an occasion. I personally love the adaptability of a red blend, and the ease with which it fits perfectly into most menus. With Shiraz/Syrah being my number one preferred red varietal, I particularly enjoyed the Ernie Els Big Easy Red Blend 2017, with a leaning towards being Shiraz-heavy.
From the world-renowned Helderberg region of Stellenbosch comes an award-winning range of wines named after South African golf legend, Ernie Els, and skillfully crafted by winemaking legend, Louis Strydom.
The winery was officially opened in 2005, and since then, the focus has been on producing a range of wines, with a particular focus on Cabernet Sauvignon. Recent renovations have transformed the winery into an iconic symbol of the Helderberg region (https://ernieelswines.com/estate/).
Ernie Els Big Easy Red Blend 2017
Tasting notes: Complexity is revealed with elegantly ripe black berry, liquorice, fine Chinese spice and smoked herbs. A majority of Shiraz cloaks the palate with fruit-laden tannins, covered in melted milk chocolate and Morello cherries.
In the vineyard: Shiraz 60%; Cabernet Sauvignon 20%; Grenache 5%; Mourvèdre 5%; Cinsault 5% and Viognier 5%
In the cellar: Whole berries are fermented in open top tanks and barrels with intermittent pump-overs and punch-downs to ensure a balance between flavour, colour and tannin extraction from the skins.
Awards and accolades:
Sommeliers’ Selection – (Elegant and Classy)
Vitis Vinifera – Gold
Wine Mag – 92 Points (Signature Report)
Cellaring potential: up to 10 years
Cellar door price: approx. R185 per bottle, online
Ernie Els Major Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Tasting notes: Red berry fruits billow from the glass with classic cigar notes over elegant crushed dried herbs, black cherry and ripe plums with red cherry freshness. The entry is inviting, fresh with a vibrant youthful energy of bouncy red fruit and an earthy undertow.
In the vineyard: Cabernet Sauvignon 92.6%; Petit Verdot 7.4%
In the cellar: Each clonal batch of Cabernet is maturated separately (micro-vinified) in oak barrels before blending. All these different batches and the various characteristic of the Cabernet clones make up the final blend of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Awards and accolades:
Platter’s – 4 and ½ Stars
Cellar door price: approx. R225 per bottle, online
A big easy dinner
My ultimate comfort fallback meal is a tray of lasagna. It’s a meal I can take my time over; a meal with layers and complexity, leaving you with a non-negotiable level of pure contentment afterwards. I enjoy slowly building up the layers of flavour: mince, white sauce, sheets of pasta, more tomatoey mince, fresh spinach leaves from the garden, more pasta, more mustardy white sauce, cheese. Fresh herbs, more cheese. And bake.
The mince must be rich with ripe tomato boldness, lifted by the addition of basil. The cheese must be gnarly and bubbly, browned to perfection and blanketing the lasagna in chewy, crunchy goodness. The combination of red wine and Italian food is a love language spoken far beyond the country borders of Italy, and one that The Little House is particularly well versed in.
An slight turn-around of opinion, I’ve found a Cabernet Sauvignon comrade in the embrace of Ernie Els Wines. Except for their heart-warming team of staff, their picturesque location, their vibrantly delicious food and their incredibly beautiful interior, they make some world-class wines. And, if you ever head out that way to taste these beautiful red wines, remember to also try their Chenin Blanc and Cab Sauv Rosé – the latter made me tear up twice!
Thank you, Ernie Els Wines, for the opportunity to linger over your excellent wines, and for allowing me the chance to prove myself wrong on your watch – there is really something like an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon.
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated / credited, are also my own.
The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.